Character Aged with the Actor
"I'm too old for this shit."
—Martin Riggs (echoing his partner, Roger Murtaugh's, catchphrase)
, Lethal Weapon 4
An old franchise comes back after many years, but, of course, now the actors are all old. Instead of recasting or making the actors up to look younger, it's decided to acknowledge how much time has passed and just have the characters be that much older.
The writers may lampshade
this by having the hero make a comment like "I'm getting too old for this."
Compare with Role Reprisal
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- The James Bond series might have four of the most well known cases in in film history.
- Desmond Llewelyn played Q in seventeen different films, appearing as the character in every single Eon Bond film starting in From Russia with Love in 1963, and making his exit in The World Is Not Enough in 1999. The only exception to this was Live and Let Die. He gets noticably older as time goes on.
- Bernard Lee played the part of M in eleven different film, starting with Dr. No in 1962 and ending with Moonraker in 1979. Again, he gets noticably older as time goes on.
- Roger Moore starred as James Bond in seven different films, starting with Live and Let Die in 1973, and ending with A View to a Kill in 1985. He started the role at the age of 45, so Bond quite visibly ages over the course of his films.
- Sean Connery starred as James Bond in seven different films. The first six films began with the 1963 Dr. No and ended with Diamonds Are Forever in 1971. He only appeared to age slightly during the films. However, when he returned as James Bond in the 1983 Never Say Never Again, he was visible aged, because he was 20 years older than when he had first appeared as Bond.
- The first Star Trek movie, made 10 years after the series ended but set only a couple of years later, attempted unsuccessfully to cover up how much the actors had aged. The next installment, however, plunged full-force into this, even making it a major plot point (to the point where William Shatner has admitted he absolutely did not like the idea at first and "had to be dragged in kicking and screaming"). This wasn't emphasised quite as much in the later films, though they continued to make no effort to hide the actors' ages. This makes a certain amount of sense, as advanced medical technology would likely extend human lifespan (and probably working lifespan) significantly.
- Fandom seems to be agreed that although advanced medical technology has extended lifespans (as is shown in the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, when a 137-year-old McCoy — by current estimates this is older than a human is biologically capable of living — is given the grand tour), strictly cosmetic procedures such as plastic surgery have fallen out of favour — with the notable exception of hairpieces.
- It's also actor Brent Spiner's rationale for Data's death in Nemesis; in that case, of course, the actor's aging couldn't be handwaved or worked into the plot, since Data is an ageless android.
- Remember Data's offscreen spoken line over the comm in the Enterprise finale? They wanted him to appear on screen but he refused because he felt he was too old to look like Data anymore.
- However, in the last regular episode of Star Trek TNG, the Data of the (possibly no longer valid) future had had some gray added to his hair to simulate aging just to 'try it out.' The perfect explanation should they ever want to bring Data is already established. Of course, it wouldn't have worked for an episode explicitly set during season 7.
- Marina Sirtis and in particular Jonathan Frakes' noticeably older appearances are just handwaved.
- The age of the TOS characters was directly referred to by Ensign "Mister Adventure" in the third movie, leading to Uhura's Moment Of Awesome.
- During the climax of Insurrection (which has aging as one of its major themes) Picard is acrobatically climbing about in the innards of the Son'a collector and fighting the Big Bad Ru'afo all by himself. At one point he tells Ru'afo that they are getting too old for this. (And with reason: According to the Star Trek wiki Memory Alpha, Picard would be around 70 at that point!)
- Note that between Kirk being shown in the command chair for the first time as a young and eager captain and what could be regarded as the end of his active service (Star Trek VI), there is about a quarter century in William Shatner's life. This seems about right for a young and aggressive captain (in a service which regularly takes lethal risks and consequently offers opportunities for command promotion) advancing to the rank of a senior admiral on the brink of his retirement.
- The second through fifth films are set, at most, within a few months of one another.
- The novelisation of Star Trek VI explicitly states that Spock has aged much slower than his contemporaries due to his Vulcan heritage ensuring he will live much longer than a human, whereas in the film Leonard Nimoy looks every bit as old as his castmates and no attempt is made to hide the fact that he's in his 60s. However, this is then averted when Spock apparently then doesn't age for another 70 years, as he appears in a TNG two-parter looking exactly the same as he did in the later movies. Enterprise would then follow the novelisation in suggesting that a Vulcan in their 60s should, to a human, look as though they are in their 30s.
- Leonard Nimoy plays Spock again in Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness, coming from a point in time after the last TNG movie, and playing the role of the grey-haired wise old mentor to his younger self (played by Zachary Quinto) in an alternate timeline.
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
- Lethal Weapon 4, to the point where Riggs and Murtaugh use "We're not too old for this shit!" as a Survival Mantra.
- All the Lethal Weapon movies, really, since non-fatal Retirony is part of the premise.
- Rocky Balboa
- Live Free or Die Hard.
- Ghostbusters 3 is to retain all the old cast from the original Ghostbusters.
- The later part of Clint Eastwood's career has been him playing the over-the-hill, but still extremely badass, hero. For a more concrete example, he noticeably ages throughout the Dirty Harry series (and it's lampshaded).
- Indeed, Clint has stated that there won't be another Dirty Harry movie, because at his age, Harry would be retired. Doesn't stop a lot of people from dubbing Gran Torino "Dirty Harry 6"
- Toy Story 3, though only one human character has aged significantly: Andy. The toy characters are toys, and thus don't have biological systems that feel the effects of aging. The only Doylist reason for this is that the kid who provided Andy's voice doesn't exactly have that little voice anymore. This is basically just the plot of the movie; it wasn't forced.
- The Road to ... Hong Kong
- TRON: Legacy, which was also notable for featuring both old Jeff Bridges as Flynn and CGI-made young Jeff Bridges as his program.
- Not to mention hiding the title character behind a mask, and generally sidelining him on top of it, because Bruce Boxleitner might have been too old (he did return to reprise his human character, and do a single voice-over line as Tron).
- At the start of Beyond Re-Animator (2003), Herbert West has served 13 years in prison since Bride of Re-Animator (1990).
Live Action TV
- Degrassi The Next Generation was originally conceived as two separate projects: one a one-time reunion special for the characters of Degrassi Junior High, the other a Middle School show called Ready, Willing and Wired focused on a new group of kids. However, the producers decided that the new ongoing show would have a better chance if it carried the name of the still-popular older franchise. The original characters appear in recurring adult roles.
- Are You Being Served? sequel series Grace and Favour (known in the United States as Are You Being Served? Again!).
- This was lampshaded in the first scene when Mr. Humphries says that the shaky elevator ride has "put 10 years on all of us".
- The new 90210 has characters from the old... but thankfully, they're actually adults rather than adults playing high school students.
- Red Dwarf: Back to Earth begins with a title card that reads, "Nine Years Later".
- Doctor Who:
- The Doctor Who special "Time Crash" has Peter Davison — now rather older — and David Tennant sharing a TARDIS as the Fifth Doctor ends up crossing paths with the Tenth. They Hand Wave it away by saying that the temporal disaster that's brought them into the same place seems to have affected Davison roughly.
- Fanon also applies this to Patrick Troughton's aged appearance in The Two Doctors, postulating the existence of a much greater gap between the last appearance of the Second Doctor and the first appearance of the Third than suggested on screen.
- Inverted with River Song, whose appearances are (roughly) in reverse chronological order due to time-travel shenanigans; that is, each time we see the character she's younger but the actress is older. In River's first chronological appearance she suggests that she's going to dial back her age occasionally just to freak people out.
- Averted in "Day of the Doctor", where David Tennant has visibly aged from his time playing the Tenth Doctor, but the character is depicted as being taken from a timeskip previously implied to exist by a Running Joke in his final season. This aversion is lampshaded by the Eleventh Doctor in the warmup footage played in cinema screenings of the episode, where the Eleventh Doctor complains about how all the Tenth Doctor's 'lines and saggy bits' are going to come out at viewers in 3D.
- Also played with in "Day of the Doctor" - Tom Baker's character appears as a very elderly version of the Fourth Doctor, but he's implied to be a separate, distant future incarnation of the Doctor who had retired from travelling and become a museum curator on Earth.
- A What Could Have Been, also with Tom Baker - the Development Hell multi-Doctor "Dark Dimensions" film, that had been conceived when Tom Baker went to the BBC and told them he wanted to be the Doctor again, would have starred an elderly version of the Fourth Doctor from an alternate dimension where he had never regenerated, who now lived as a hermit in an old Victorian church dressed in a black version of his outfit. Unfortunately the other actors playing the other Doctors disliked the Character Focus, Character Shilling and Canon Sue treatment Tom Baker's Doctor got compared to their Doctors, and dropped out of the project, which was then shitcanned by Executive Meddling.
- Tom Baker's visible and drastic aging over the course of his run - going in seven years from looking much younger than his real age to much older than his real age - was an inspiration for his character, in his final season, getting a Same Character, But Different Re Tool from his usual bohemian Man Child persona (which was starting to come across as a bit too creepy rather than cute) into a dark, morbid Byronic Hero dressed head-to-toe in blood red.
- The Sarah Jane Adventures featured an older Sarah Jane Smith, who had aged very well, along with guest appearances by The Brigadier, a Badass Grandpa if ever there was one, and Jo Jones, formerly Jo Grant. Lampshaded in "Death of the Doctor" when, after Jo expressed surprise that (from her point of view) the Doctor had changed his face "into a baby's", he shot back that she looked like someone baked her.
- Between 1987 and 1994, Lee Majors and Lindsay Wagner reprised their famous The Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman roles for a trilogy of TV movies. Wagner actually held up quite well over the years, Majors less so, and the second film, Bionic Showdown, actually pushed both into the background in favor of a younger "bionic woman" played by a pre-stardom Sandra Bullock.
- In Power Rangers Dino Thunder, the character Tommy was only supposed to be 25. But because of a little Dawson Casting, and a Retcon that made him three years younger, the actor was 30 at the time of filming, so the character was played as slightly older than he should have been. However, he didn't look it.
- Bulk started out in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers as a high school bully. When he returned in Power Rangers Samurai 18 years later, he was now mentoring his best friend's high-school-age son.
- However like Tommy, he doesn't look much older aside from having no hair, as he apparantly started shaving his head. When Skull later appears, he looks exactly the same.
- Boy Meets World. The main characters are in middle school when the series begins and in college by its end.
- And in the upcoming sequel / spin-off series Girl Meets World, Cory and Topanga will be the parents of a 13-year-old girl.
- According to Word of God, the title character of Chowder aged with his voice actor.
- Finn from Adventure Time had a 13th birthday party. His voice has also become deeper, which makes sense since his voice actor is also entering puberty. As of season 4, he is 14. As of season 5, he is 15.
- In The Simpsons, baseball player Mike Scioscia made a guest star appearance in season 3. He later returns in season 22, with a much older appearance, while the rest of the Simpsons remain under the perpetual floating timeline. In addition, because celebrities are linked to pop culture and are not established characters in the Simpsons series, they are exempt from the floating timeline. However, this does not apply to other celebrities like Stephen Hawking and Rupert Murdoch.
- In Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, Rick Hunter briefly appears as a white haired, battle scarred middle aged Admiral (canon gives his age in 2044 as 54). His voice actor, Tony Oliver is about the same age. The Sentinels novels and comics attempted to use Applied Phlebotinum to delay the aging of Rick and the other original Macross Saga characters, namely by having their trip to Tirol fall victim to unexpected Time Dilation thanks to the shapings of Protoculture. The older comics and novelizations also set the events of Invid Invasion in the early 2031 when Rick would have been only about 40 (but still look like he was in his early to mid 30s). The retcon of the Robotech timeline avoids all of this and Rick is now clearly too aged for the Veritech cockpit.